Inspiring Kids Through Literature: Sara Stem Saves the Bees


Empowering girls.

Originally posted on Green Living Ottawa:

Written by Denise Deby.

Sara Stem Saves the Bees book - D. Deby photo

A children’s book with a strong female character who faces an environmental challenge and takes charge with a science-based solution—that’s Sara Stem Saves the Bees.

Local author Julia Cieslukowska created the story of Sara Stem, a girl who realizes something is happening with the bees. Sara uses her knowledge and the resources around her to find and carry out a solution. The book, written for two- to six-year-olds, illustrates that individual actions can make a difference for the environment.

I had the chance to meet Julia Cieslukowska at her book launch on November 16. Julia, who’s also doing a masters’ degree in international affairs at Carleton, wanted to write a book to empower kids, particularly those who don’t see themselves often represented in literature. You can read more about Julia’s motivation for writing the book here.

Julia has set up a Kickstarter campaign where people can…

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Callum Mor’s Awakening


Excerpt from Redemption                Order Book:



Callum Mor walked directly to the edge of the fell. He did not look for the child but for the direction animals would take for shelter. He was very still. His keen sense of nature’s rhythms directed him. He searched for signs of sheep, tracing their paths to shelter, knowing Catriona would have followed them once she saw her danger. He plunged into snow drifts and struggled painfully out of them. He strained every sense so that he could hear and feel. He found several sheep huddled together in numerous places but no Catriona. He stood and wondered and thought deeply for a sign of the child. His eyes were drawn to a lie of the land beneath the snow that he instantly saw Catriona would take. He walked steadily to it, feeling drawn by his senses and then he found her track, in concert with the steps of a sheep. He found them together, the child and the ewe, in a shallow cave overhung with rock and turf.

She was blue with cold and the exposure to nature’s indifference. He knelt beside her and felt fear at her lack of recognition of him. He blocked out the snow with his strong body and willed life to the child. He offered up a prayer of gratitude for the finding of her and crooned softly to her in his own language, singing Gaelic lullabies to her. He must not lose her. The ewe stared balefully at Callum and stamped her foot. He spoke softly to the creature, knowing that he would need her if they were to live. His voice came softly through the layers of fear and cold that entrapped Catriona. “I told you I would be waiting for you little one.” She heard his gentle voice and stirred a little. He sat beside her, noting her dullness of response, slowly warming her hands in his, gently rubbing her thin knees that were cold, so cold. Then he dressed her in the additional clothes of hers that he carried in his pack. The snow was whipped into a whirling blizzard by a wind with no mercy. He knew they could not leave their shelter that night and they must live. His jacket and coat were wrapped round the huddled pitiful form of the child and he held her to him for warmth. The ewe was impatient to leave for fear of them but feared the blizzard more. Callum Mor talked to Catriona about what they would do. They must live. The ewe would give itself to them so that they could live. She must understand this. Catriona nodded while he explained to her that he was going to kill the sheep and then gut it so that she may be placed inside for warmth so he may have his jacket and coat and not freeze. She nodded with the wisdom of a seven year old, concerned only that the sheep would not suffer. “No, my Catriona, the ewe will not suffer.”

He spoke softly to the animal and touched it gently at the ears. The ewe ceased its trembling and relaxed and while he talked to her he took his fisherman’s knife and swiftly cut its jugular. While it died, his own numbed hands were restored to life by its warm blood. He gave thanks to the ewe for her life. After gutting the animal, he slit it open from the breast bone to the tail. He placed the child inside the dead carcass and she was insulated from the freezing tendrils of the blizzard. Mercifully she slept. A sleep of one who knows they are to be delivered. He sat with his jacket and coat loosely about him, creating a pocket of warm air that would resist the freezing will of the storm. He breathed slowly and deeply, using the least energy as he sat there.

His life went before his eyes and he smiled gently as he saw his childhood and island nurturing. He recalled his family at picnics and peats, the joy of dancing competitively with Moira and rabbiting with Donald. And his teacher, Rachel MacDougall, was there in his mind’s eye. He smiled in gratitude for the freedom she opened in his mind. He had received so much. His expression did not change as he thought of his father, Andrew, driven to madness by events he could not overcome. His heart welled with love for his father. He knew it was love that had driven his father to such lengths. He recalled the patient love of his mother Annie and the winter expeditions to the mail boat as their major weekly outing. He understood the warring factions in Brett MacVicker and felt grateful that this man, who killed his brother, should have shielded his darkness from him. His thoughts drifted and rested with his mother as she aged. He gave thanks for this child – fast asleep and warm within the insulation from the dead ewe. He offered respectful thanks to the ewe for enabling his little Catriona to live. He grieved at the wreckage he had turned himself into with drink, not for what he did to himself but for the pain he had inflicted by rebuke and indifference on people who only loved him. He dozed in the cold for only a moment. His mind kept him awake as he thought of the child Catriona and her mother and father. In the knowing of them they were as gifts to return him to himself. As morning light shafted through the darkness, he lost his self-contempt and saw compassion as the saving grace of both himself and his fellow man.

In that long night of freezing cold and driving blizzard his mind led him to these and many other paths and levels of his life. His suffering dissolved as his compassion grew. By morning he arrived at full self-knowledge – a state of enlightenment that he remained in for the rest of his days.

Return to the Cave: Excerpt from Trailing Sky Six Feathers


With the approach of a watershed day looming up in my diary I prepared by fasting and meditating deeply. There was actually no choice. I came down with stomach flu. Nothing that went into my mouth would stay down. Whatever bug had railroaded me, I actually welcomed it, as the fast was definitely on, accompanied by a gentle entry into prolonged meditation that took me into deep humility and gratitude to be in such a rare cradle of nature. But I was not tuning in at all to the two hundred and thirty one year cycle that my astrology friend Shera had been so emphatic about. No radical insights emerged, just jumbled rubbish dreams. Perhaps a clearing of junk was taking place due to Pluto crashing into Capricorn with its usual uprooting panache. The only thing I noticed was that my focus suddenly became enlarged, as though my mind had moved from a small TV screen to a huge HD model. A heightened lucidity that I attributed to being ill and light headed from the fasting. During the night I had a vivid dream vision and remembered every exact detail. It was accompanied by a narrator speaking to me, which I found odd.

I was standing on the lip of a cave high in a canyon in the Red Rock country of Central Arizona. An eagle flew up to me and alighted on my back. She wrapped her wings around me. The gentleness of the talons on my back and the embracing wings across my chest showed me that it was a female golden eagle. Her head was above mine, looking out from the cave. I could see through her eyes.

Then the narrator’s voice said, ‘This is the protection of the great eagle. Trailing Sky Six Feathers gives it to you.’

Then the mountain lion bounded into the cave and I heard a different voice in the dream, Trailing Sky speaking through the eagle.  ‘This is the heart and courage of the mountain lion that I now give to you.’

The deer came in, followed by owl and bear, all medicine gifts from Trailing Sky. The wily coyote trotted in, the gift of strategy and discernment.

The narrator spoke again, “This goes on throughout the night as you sleep. The gifts of Trailing Sky Six Feathers are given to you. Remember well, she is the greatest medicine woman the South West has ever known. Remember well, she is the direct expression of the highest universal plane. She had only one wish when you died in her arms two hundred and thirty one years ago and that was to find you. Receive the gifts she could not give to you before you died. They arose in her to fill the void of your passing from her life. She has been waiting a long time. You promised her the last time you were in the cave sanctuary that you would understand and not resist.”

“You now carry Trailing Sky’s medicine bundle. Your illness was sent by her, so you would prepare without resistance. She connects to holy beings in all traditions. Guidance from her is not trivial and cannot ever be taken lightly. Your responsibility is to honor this. Your insights into the reality of Trailing Sky will become clear”

When I awoke next morning, I recalled the dream vision in precise detail. Suddenly I had a searing vision of Trailing Sky holding me in her arms as I died in 1777 at the medicine wheel on the rock bluff above the weeping willow tree. I was harrowed to the bone by her grief. I felt her fierceness and anger at the other-worldly beings for failing to revive me. Then felt her anger release as she concentrated on my passage through time and space. I saw how she sat in the medicine wheel holding my dead body as she chanted our journey. I watched her hair turn grey, then white. Then saw her majestic communication to The People. I remember before death, looking up at her and smiling my love through my eyes to her and can still hear her say, “I will find you my husband, I will find you.”

And she did, two hundred and thirty one years later. I could not at first believe this or fully accept it. Yet the eagle wings around me were her arms, the eagle head above mine her vision and fierceness, the talons digging gently into my back to ensure that I understood. In that instant I totally surrendered to this relentless Muse that never gave up on me. I gave up all resistance, realizing that Trailing Sky had kept her word from 1777, “I will find you.” Even now, as I write this memory down, I cannot stop the tears. I am both here, with the dream vision and there, dying in the medicine wheel, as she vows to find me. All my reservations and doubts become as nothing.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

Order Book:

Walking with Sand Hill Cranes at Fish Lake

Walking with Sand Hill Cranes at Fish Lake

I offered 10 days of mindfulness practice in November to the Fish Lake Sangha in Orlando, Florida. Imagine my surprise to be greeted at the lakeside by Sand Hill Cranes who honked every time I started a dharma talk! They are wonderful creatures, totally unafraid of the two legged walking with them and taking photographs.


On the first Saturday we greeted the morning and the cranes with Zen Practice. Zen Practice has a very practical nature – Chop Wood, Carry Water – and being aware of precisely doing so. The cultural origins from China and Japan do not necessarily travel well to western countries, so I have adapted the form somewhat and kept the essence. We listen to the bell calling us back to our true selves for guidance, listen to our breathing and through the discipline of this practice we settle into a deep calm and harmony with everything around and within is.  The simplicity and elegance of silence. The cadence of sitting with breathing in and out, the flow of walking with breath - in and out, the joy of stretching with breath in and out. Then repeat the entire cadence three times. The silence deepens as we settle gently into the quality of our mind. Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do.


The first dharma talk to the community was on the topic of Righteous Anger. All such conflicts require the active and intentional cultivation of Zen Mind to navigate the pitfalls of hatred, distraction, violence, past wounds. We deal with the fundamental pollution – in the human mind. Making the world better requires that we make our minds better. The task is to make our thinking better. Navigate more skillfully. The Four Brahmaviharas meditation is a good tool, all children’s songs an effective antidote. Foundation Practices and the Two Arrows teaching.

A recent protest in Antigonish, N.S. supporting Gaza produced yelling hate, violence and anger. There was a woman standing apart with a list in one hand and purple chalk in her other hand. She was carefully and quietly writing down on the edge of the sidewalk of Main Street, Antigonish, N.S. the names and ages of every child killed in the Gaza bombardment.  My question to you is: Which protest do you think had the most impact?


During the week there was a session of qi-gong with Carolyn and a Transmission Ceremony of the Five Mindfulness Trainings – a step into living the Bodhisattva Path.  When I invited the 5 aspirants to come to the front and offer bows to the three gems, they spontaneously held hands and bowed together. Very sweet, a great omen for what they will bring to the sangha.

Carolyn and Ian at the transmission ceremony

The day of mindfulness on the final Sunday began with silent meditation and the 2nd dharma talk, Collapse and the Bodhisattva. I spoke about the breakdown of Industrial Growth Society. Staring into the abyss. No limits, no maturity. From Columbine to Newton, CT – the killers are pre-adult males with mental illness – the immaturity of the Carry Movement – NOT defense of 2nd amendment rights. The solution – STOP; RE-ASSESS; ENTER THE BODHISATTVA – NOW with interbeing and non-discrimination.  Shantideva’s unwavering encouragement from the 8th century. Buddha Mind. “Ego” is very disappointed with Awakening – so let us all disappoint the ego. I finished the talk by reading the Hopi Prophecy of 2008.


Carolyn led everyone through a qi-gong session prior to a Silent Lunch ushered in with the Five Contemplations before eating. The next edible item was chocolate meditation which followed walking meditation outside by the lakeside.  Carolyn spoke about the causes and conditions that brought the wrapped chocolate to each hand and the vast population it had touched before landing. The dharma discussion was on a very weighty topic – How can Mindfulness be addressed to the crisis with ISIL? This was very challenging. The final session was a Q & A before the closing ceremony and good byes.

During the days prior to leaving for home, Carolyn and I cycled ten miles each day to the Café de Paris, owned by a French family. It was interesting that our ten mile bike ride was past a series of gated communities. An omen of the times we are in, but do not have to be part of.


More Dead Children

The media and government in Canada have largely covered up the factors of mental health and drug addiction in the recent shooting of a soldier on Parliament Hill. The cover up gives a false sense of security to our mental health services, which are woefully inadequate. This same lack is shared by our neighbor to the south, which requires that I return to the very serious reality of more dead children.

The shock waves from the 1999 high school shootings in Littleton, Colorado and the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, swept across North America and touched every community.  As those shock waves recede, the greatest danger is public distance from taking responsibility for the toxic environments we have created.  The specter of children shooting children in high schools shocked me very deeply.  After several days of silence and meditation after Columbine, I wrote a short essay titled “Yes It Can Happen Here” that looked deeply into the causes of the shootings.

I wrote about the ready availability of guns and drugs.  When this combines with lack of time spent with young people by parents, teachers and community leaders, then the consumption of violence by our children through the media, video games and the internet can lead to the deadly carnage of high school shoot-outs.  Many of our children have become exiles.  They experience “not love”, “not connected.”  Nobody hears their voice, and we have largely forgotten how to listen to them.  Many children have found a third parent in cyberspace where violence, hatred and killing are readily available without any sense of consequence or responsibility.  In the absence of clear ethical guidelines from parents and society, young people are creating their own identity from the very worst that cyberspace and Hollywood have to offer.   In the absence of a stable identity, there is a drive to achieve instant fame through acts of notoriety and violence.

Twenty years later after the massacre in Newton, CT, I wrote about Dead Children. Twenty children gunned down at an elementary school. Children killed as collateral damage in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Congo, Afghanistan and in world-wide violence. We are all grieving parents to the world. The question we all face is – What Now? In the face of grief we must feel it deeply, be hurt by it, taking time to feel the pain of the tragedy. Then come through, determined to make a difference. STOP: REASSESS: ENTER THE BODHISATTVA.

Stopping requires calling in the support of wise friends, counselors and community so we can begin to see clearly and give ourselves the chance to find ourselves. Stillness is needed, not social media distraction – for we now have to look for a new direction and leadership. To reassess the 21st century, we must look deeply at the factors involved in the shootings. We will see a complex, intertwined tapestry with the easy availability of guns and drugs, compounded by societal tolerance of violence through the worst that cyberspace and Hollywood have to offer. Plus the very serious common denominator shared by the killers stretching back to the Columbine massacre. This is the factor of mental illness in predominantly pre-adult white males who are caught in an identity trap that they escape from through violence and murder. This is their five minutes of fame that enables them to be remembered. They occupy a toxic landscape of “not love”, “not connected.” And this is what requires the attention of our mental health system and our mindfulness.  How do we begin?

DCF 1.0

It is time for the Bodhisattva to enter the 21st century as a paradigm and archetype for individual and collective action. This enables us to deeply transform ourselves and our civilization. We nurture this paradigm by cultivating two aspects that lie dormant within us. The first aspect is Interbeing – knowing that we interconnect with everything – the earth, oceans, forests and mountains, all species and most of all – with all people. Interbeing creates harmony and unity and destroys the ego. The second aspect is Non-discrimination, which carries the energy of compassion, and this combination threatens selfishness. Taken together – these buried aspects, once they manifest from within us, open pathways and bridges to build a better world.

How do we do this? We cultivate the energies of transformation – Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight. Always – at every opportunity we bring Interbeing and Non-Discrimination to the forefront of our daily lives. In this way we shape the future of the 21st century as we begin to live differently – here and now. We are not intimidated by present crises. We are certainly shocked and hurt by such circumstances but are in fact much stronger than we think. Enter the Bodhisattva is the guiding paradigm for our lives. I allude to Bruce Lee’s classic – Enter the Dragon – which brings the fierceness of the warrior to the fore and the determination of a saint to overcome tragedy and set a new course. It takes practice, skillfulness and creative vision – but we are equal to the task.

My Manifesto: My body and mind are not individual entities that I can do anything I like with – such as filling them with drugs, alcohol, hateful attitudes and violence.  My body and mind exist for future generations therefore I must be aware of what I put into them.  We must also exercise care and responsibility over what we allow into the minds and bodies of our children, to prevent murders from happening in our schools.  Furthermore, this care and responsibility is to prevent young people turning their consumption of violence in on themselves – in the form of suicide.  We must take steps to fill the ethical void, give our children the benefits of our full presence and learn to listen deeply to them so that positive steps are taken to eliminate murders taking place in our schools.


Mental Illness, Alcoholism and Depression

The greatest gift one can receive is that of finding one’s true nature. The human spirit is resilient and can triumph over tragedy and psychological dependence. Learning to find our inner strength can conquer mental illness, alcoholism and depression. It is one factor in the complex reality of modern day suffering. It is essential to have a good physician and social support as well as the tools of mindfulness to nourish inner strength. The reality is that almost 15 million adults in North America suffer from some form of depression, enhanced through alcoholism and other mental afflictions.  I believe that the power of inner strength can help such wounded individuals overcome their worldly crutches. It took me a while to come to these realizations and the avenue was through a book I wrote some 40 years ago. This novel – Redemption – is in fact an allegory for depression and life difficulties that I once experienced, though I did not realize it at the time. The themes of mental illness and depression are writ large in this book – a turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation.


The novel illuminates startling cycles of maturing and downfall experienced by the book’s main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who finally gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. His failings and misery are ultimately conquered when he saves the life of a young girl and comprehends the fragility and beauty of human existence. “Redemption” was a “lost” manuscript, first written in 1975, forgotten until spring 2011. The narrative was vivified and refined with hindsight forty years later. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and of human nature.  Callum Mor takes the reader on a deep Hero’s Journey. It opens with his childhood in the Hebrides. He draws wonderful mentors to him; his schoolteacher, who lights the spark of a bard in him, animal friends such as an otter, a brutal fisherman who shields his darkness from the boy as he matures. Callum Mor thrives despite the poverty of his home in an island nurturing with gentle humor and adventure.  This novel moves from the rhapsody of Callum Mor’s idyllic childhood through tragedies to the derelict zone of his alcoholic drowning out of pain and suffering. His father, a seaman longing to be at home, is driven to madness by his inability to create a place for himself on the island. His brother is murdered on the docks at Montreal. So Callum Mor stays with his mother and forgets his yearnings to be a writer. He becomes the best fisherman in the region before grave misunderstandings tear his love, Catriona, away from him. This displaces his gifts as he drives himself and his crew to the very limits of endurance. The manner of his mother’s death is the final straw.

Callum Mor’s sensitivities and mind snap, as he enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society. With only his animals keeping him this side of sanity he survives in a bleak solitude.  Until a family with a small girl seeking refuge from a storm come to his house. Slowly he edges away from his self-destruction. He saves the girl’s life in a winter blizzard. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him while sheltering in a cave with the child warmly ensconced in a gutted carcass of a sheep he killed to keep her from freezing. He sees his life pass in front of his eyes and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit. “Redemption” is my fourteenth book and first novel, though actually the first book I ever wrote.  In 1975 I was unable to get it published.  I found this “Lost” manuscript in an old filing cabinet, read it through and could scarce believe it.  I requested my wife and a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer ready document.   My wife thought it was incredible; one friend could not put it down and mused about the film to be made; the other friend cried through most of it.  All of which encouraged me to bring “Redemption” to life. I was tempted to leave this gem from 1975 in its pristine state, but realized that my insights some forty years later could enhance the narrative and flesh out “Callum Mor” into a character of epic proportions.

The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time–40 years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book while in a miserable state of mind? I was not in a good place physically or mentally – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep a career going at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. Publishing this book in 2014 was an imperative for me, as a necessary part of my own life- journey. It is a companion to Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse-also published in 2014.  These books are writing me. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Xlibris websites. Check out: Book video: Youtube: Redemption Interview Find Recent Shows 10-19-2014

Buddhist Online Journal Goes Blogging Ballistic

After thirteen years of presenting a standard online journal Pine Gate Mindfulness Community has taken it to a new blog format thanks to Br. Yves. This permits interaction and feedback on each item, enabling a discourse not possible before. It enhances the graphic/ photo content enormously and is in sync with the links and perks that online offers.

The URL: is essentially the Table of Contents, which contains links to the different articles in the present issue.  Each article on WordPress is actually a blog post. We hope it works. Onwards – lightly and beautifully with Pine Gate Volume 13, Issue 3: Fall 2014,

Ian Prattis – editor

Yves Desnoyers – production editor

PINE GATE MINDFULNESS COMMUNITY                                                                       

Pine Gate is a Zen Buddhist community practicing Engaged Buddhism inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama and Sulak Sivaraksa. It has created an engaged expression for peace, social justice and planetary care as the community is the nucleus of Friends for Peace. The coalition, with Pine Gate at the core, has since created annual events to celebrate peace, social justice and planetary care. The resident teacher is Dharmacharya Ian Prattis – True Body of Wisdom. Ian is a poet, scholar, peace and environmental activist.  As a professor at Carleton University he taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Globalization and Consciousness – reflected in his 2008 book: Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. As an ordained meditation teacher he encourages people to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed.  He has trained with masters in Buddhist, Vedic and Shamanic traditions.


Pine Gate, located in the west end of Ottawa, had very modest beginnings.  Inaugurated in 1997 following Ian’s return from teaching meditation in India, early gatherings featured Ian, his wife Carolyn, and their pets – Nikki the dog and Lady the cat.  Since then it has blossomed into a very vibrant community. In the summer of 2001 major renovations took place to the lower level of Ian and Carolyn’s home.  A new meditation hall emerged from the dust and knocked down walls – the Pine Gate Meditation Hall – named after Thich Nhat Hanh’s story in the book: The Stone Boy and Other Stories. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh provided a gift of calligraphy, naming The Pine Gate Meditation Hall.  This now hangs on the wall for all to see.  The new meditation hall has become a source of sanctuary for many friends. There are three seasons at Pine Gate – the Fall Study Session from September to December, the Winter Study Session from January to May, and the Lazy Days of Summer program from July to August. June is recess and quiet time.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

There are regular meetings for meditation and study every Thursday evening from 7.00pm – 9.00pm.  Duong Sinh – Bamboo Stick Qi-gong classes, known as the Life Sustaining Way of the Heart, are offered in addition to regular qi-gong classes throughout the year. Potluck vegetarian suppers, Hikes, Sweat Lodges, Pilgrimages, Days of Mindfulness, and Meditation Retreats are organized on a regular basis.  The voice of the sangha can be heard through its Quarterly Buddhist Journal – Pine Gate – which appears three times a year. Quirky!.

“Our engagement with society and the environment rests on our quality of being. When that quality is rooted in stillness there is a different ground for subsequent actions and so events take a different course. We simply go home to our true nature. We are very active in this way and bring harmony to those we interact with. The most significant interaction is with our true nature. To connect to its boundless quality in daily life, and then to connect to others and the world in the same way is surely the ticket to ride!” 




In Ottawa, take Queensway to Woodroffe South exit; go to Baseline Rd; RT on Baseline; RT on Highgate (2nd lights) RT on Westbury; LT on Rideout and follow the Crescent round to 1252, which is always lit up with Christmas lights in the winter and full of flowers in the summer.  Tel: 613 726 0881

Contacts: ; 


Wedding Speeches Off The Grid

Wedding Speeches Off The Grid

My niece’s wedding is in November 2014. She asked me if I could find off-the-grid passages and read them at the church ceremony. Here are two I really like.

Edmund O’Neill – poet

Marriage Joins Two People in the Circle of Its Love

Marriage is a commitment to life –

To the best that two people can find

And bring out in one another.

It offers opportunities for sharing and growth

that no other human relationship can equal,

a joining that is promised for a lifetime.

Within the circle of its love,

Marriage enhances all of life’s most important relationships.

A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend,

Confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic.

There may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing,

And the love of the other

may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.

Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life.

Happiness is fuller; memories are fresher; commitment is stronger;

Even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid.

It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences,

And new ways of expressing love through the seasons of life.

When two people pledge to love and care for each other in marriage

They create a spirit unique to themselves,

which binds them closer than any spoken or written words.

Marriage is a promise, a potential,

Made in the hearts of two people,

which talks a lifetime to fulfill.

American Indian Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain

For each of you will be shelter to the other.

Now you will feel no cold

For each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now you will know no loneliness

For each of you will bec

companionship to the other.

Now you are two persons

But there is only one life between you.

Go now to your dwelling place

To enter the days of your life together.

2012 Friends for Peace Day

Triumph of the Human Spirit

Triumph of the Human Spirit

Inner strength and resilience conquer mental illness and alcoholism


OTTAWA, ONTARIO – According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, nearly 15 million adults suffer from some form of depression. Professor, author, and distinguished scholar, Ian Prattis believes that the power of inner strength can help these wounded souls overcome their worldly crutches. “The greatest gift one can be given is that of finding one’s true nature,” Prattis said. “The human spirit is resilient and can triumph over tragedy and psychological dependence.”

Prattis’ new novel, “Redemption” is an allegory for depression and life difficulties that he himself once experienced. The novel, which is set off the northwest coast of Scotland, illuminates startling cycles of maturing and downfall experienced by the book’s main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who finally gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey. Callum Mor’s character is epic and takes the reader on a deep Hero’s Journey. His failings and misery are ultimately conquered when he saves the life of a young girl and comprehends the fragility and beauty of human existence.


Redemption is a companion to “Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse”, which was also published in 2014. Both books can be viewed at

Please visit for more information on:


By Ian Prattis

Price: $15.99

ISBN: 978-1-4990-1234-7

Available at: Amazon, Xlibris and Barnes and Noble online bookstores

About the Author

Ian Prattis is a poet, Professor Emeritus, founder of Friends for Peace and a spiritual warrior for planetary care and social justice. Ian now lives with his wife Carolyn in the west end of Ottawa where the Pine Gate Meditation Hall is located in the lower level of their home. Since retiring from Carleton University in 2007, he has authored four books on dharma, two on the environment, a legend/autobiographical combo and this novel. He enjoys the freedom to create at his own pace and has yet to discern the ordinary meaning of retirement.



EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:

Ryan Simpson | 317-275-2057 |

(When requesting a review copy, please provide street address.)

Two Lives

Don Butler, senior writer at The Ottawa Citizen interviewed me about my recent book, Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. Here are some excerpts that appeared in Don’s article, September 22, 2014 – ‘How the two lives of Ian Prattis could help us all survive.’

“Prattis, a 71 year-old retired professor of anthropology and religion, writes about two of his lives in a new book, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, described on the jacket blurb as ‘Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy.’ In this life, Prattis, who calls himself a Spiritual Warrior for Planetary Care, Peace and Social Justice, taught at Carleton University for 37 years, was ordained in India as a guru, leads weekly Buddhist meditation classes in the basement of his west-end bungalow, and founded Friends for Peace Canada at the outbreak of the Iraq war. Oh, yes – he also lived in a hermitage in Gatineau Park with his pet wolf for four years. In the other life, he was the chief of an Indian band in 18th-century Arizona, fending off Apache attacks, married to Trailing Sky Six Feathers, a powerful medicine woman in whose arms he died in 1777. As his life ebbed away, she vowed: “I will find you my husband, I will find you.”

”In his book, a mix of memoir, mysticism and manifesto, the British-born Prattis describes both lives and pivotal training he received from four North American sages that ultimately allowed him to reunite spiritually with his ‘muse,’ Trailing Sky.  He issues a call for ‘spiritual awakening,’ necessary to ensure the survival of a world pushed to the edge of a dangerous precipice by climate change, ecosystem and financial collapse, corruption, terrorism and anarchy. It’s hard to predict how people will receive his book, Prattis acknowledges. For the longest time, his own logical, intellectually trained mind resisted accepting the fantastical tale.

“His journey started about 35 years ago, when he began decades of spiritual training with White Eagle Woman, an Ojibwa shaman from a reserve near Sault Ste. Marie. When they first met, White Eagle Woman “looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I don’t like you at all’ Prattis recalls. “But she said, ‘I’ve been instructed by my ancestors to train you.’” It was during that training that Prattis started remembering things about his past life. “It was a very slow process of remembering. I had to let the logic go and let the intuition speak more loudly.” In the early 1990s, Prattis retreated to a hermitage, a small cottage near parking Lot 7 in Kingsmere. His constant companion was a timber wolf he had encountered in the wilds of British Columbia who “made it clear that he was to come back with me to Quebec,” Prattis says. He dubbed the animal Wolfie, a name he dryly describes as “Highly original.”

Wolfie in Kingsmere

“Trailing Sky, Prattis says, “represents the feminine aspect of Earth wisdom, the feminine face of the Buddha to which he has surrendered. …Given the existential threats facing us, spiritual awakening is essential, Prattis says. Without it, “all you can rely on is politics and economics. We need something more formidable than that.

“We seem to be waiting for a Gandhi, a Mandela or a Martin Luther King to step up and lead. They’re gone. It’s ordinary people that have to step up and make a difference. Spiritual awakening takes hard work and discipline, Prattis says. Living simply is important. So is mindfulness and developing community. One key strategy, says Prattis, is to respond, rather than react, when others say or do things that upset you.

Despite the threat of approaching disaster, Prattis says his book is fundamentally optimistic. “It really does have a message of empowerment. No matter how dire the situation is or how perilous, we can always come through.”

To order this and other books go to